How to recognize extra virgin olive oil?
The best way to tell if extra virgin olive oil is authentic—that is, it’s not adulterated, mislabeled, or just plain rancid—is to taste it.
There are things you should know and do to avoid being scammed or, at the very least, disappointed.
How can extra virgin olive oil be “fake”?
Olive oil is simply the juice extracted from fresh olives, without chemicals, heat or further processing. To qualify as extra virgin, the highest quality, the oil must pass the laboratory analyzes and sensory tests established by the International Olive Council of Madrid.
But there is ample room for deception along the production chain. In the worst case (and illegal) fake EVO is diluted with a cheap soybean or seed oil or blended with inferior olive oil. chemically refined.
Or, as is more common, it is blended with olive oil that has been sitting around from the previous year’s harvest or longer. This is legal, but by the time the bottle arrives at the store it is already substandard, devoid of its wonderful health benefits and would not pass the scrutiny of the IOC, i.e. the International Olive Council.
So what to do?
Enthusiastic users of good extra virgin olive oil can save themselves a lot of guesswork by shopping at a reputable olive oil specialty store or market, where accurate sourcing is a priority and you can taste before you buy.
But if the grocery store is the cheapest or only option, follow these tips.
Tip no. 1: never buy anything that doesn’t say “extra virgin” on the label.
The phrase alone is no guarantee, but without it, you will always get a low-quality product.
Tip no. 2: look for the “harvest date” and the name of the estate or mill.
Basically, the more specifics, the better. In general, only the best oils bear the words “pressed on” or “harvest date”.
If the label bears the name of the producer or company, or the variety of olives used, it is most likely authentic.
Tip no. 3: The expiration and bottling dates.
The best before date is by legal standard eighteen months after bottling.
But this does not mean that the extra virgin olive oil is unusable, but at this point it has lost all or almost all of its initial scents. While “bottled on” inevitably indicates the true date.
Tip no. 4: Look for a third-party certification seal. In particular, the European Union’s protected designation of origin (PDO) or the Italian PDO.
Tip no. 5: Trust your senses.
Fake olive oil might taste greasy, rancid, tasteless, or just plain unpleasant.
Good olive oil, real olive oil, should smell and taste green, bright, peppery, earthy, herbaceous, or some combination of these.
Watch out for suggestions and enjoy the tasting.